“Angus was a great resource to scale our department and position us for the next phase. You will not find anyone who worked harder than our team, but we can't manufacture decades of successful marketing leadership experience.”
Jessica Johnston, VP of Marketing, Education Advanced
A growing SaaS company, Education Advanced, Inc. (EAI) develops operations tools for education leaders to transform schools. Partnering with private equity, leadership sought to build the marketing function but lacked experienced marketing leadership. Engaging Chief Outsiders Fractional CMO, Angus Robertson as a fractional advisor, the company received the direction needed to develop its marketing team and build the operational and reporting infrastructure to support rapid growth. After 12 months, EAI enjoys marketing systems and staff to support predictable 2X revenue growth, resulting in 10X value creation.
SaaS Company Poised for Growth
Education Advanced, Inc. (EAI) empowers educators to focus on students with time and cost-saving technology. EAI’s award-winning SaaS software streamlines master scheduling, staff planning, educator growth, graduation tracking, and other vital administrative functions.
“The CEO, and many in the company came from K through 12,” reported Angus Roberson, Fractional CMO Advisor, Chief Outsiders. “They all feel passionately about the education system with goals to remove administrative overhead for teachers, and ensure students have more class choices.”
About 18 months ago, the company partnered with private equity. “With that came higher revenue goals, more involvement, and leadership looking to see real marketing KPIs,” related Jessica Johnston, then Assistant VP of Marketing.
Instant Experience Needed
Unfortunately, EAI’s new CMO accepted a position with another company. “That left me and our creative director to figure it out for a few months,” related Johnston. “I was new to the role, new to the company, and knew that we needed some help.”
Fortunately, EAI enjoyed a good product market fit and a well-performing flagship product. “Our marketing team was two years old, but we were missing a lot of infrastructure,” cautioned Johnston. “I felt like I was on an island, in a strong department but without strong leadership.”
Hiring three additional team members underscored the problem. “We were doing a lot of things and not sure what was working and what wasn't,” she explained. “We didn't have representation on the executive team or a seasoned marketer to help us navigate the landscape.”
Chief Outsiders as Advisor
Serent Capital, the private equity firm who invested in EAI, had previously engaged Robertson to help with Serent’s positioning. Once they heard EAI’s new full-time CMO was leaving EAI, Serent recommended Angus to the EAI CEO, Dr. Eli Crow. As a result, Eli and Jessica considered a fractional CMO model, and interviewed Angus.
“It felt like a great fit,” related Johnston. “A solid person with more experience to help grow me as a marketing leader, position the department for growth, and grow the company.”
“When I joined EAI, they already had a strong team and some performing programs, but not an overall marketing strategy,” related Robertson. “They brought me on as an advisor to activate marketing as a scalable growth driver for the company, one that the CEO could invest in, and predictably gain new customers and revenue.”
When Johnston met Robertson, she felt a real synergy. “We dove in, and it was great,” she related. “He was approachable and warm, and never made me feel less than because I was still growing into my position as a marketing leader.”
EAI’s CEO had said that a growing company follows in the footsteps of others along a well-worn path. “So, I called Angus my marketing Sherpa,” explained Johnston. “Every time I had a question, he had an answer and showed me that we just have to follow these steps.”
Over the next 12 months, Robertson helped Johnston and EAI put modern marketing and CRM systems in place. Working together, they organized the reporting, and developed the programs and owners around digital marketing, events, and outbound campaigns.
Connecting Activities to Results
Before the engagement, EAI had no data model, no lead workflow process, out-of-the-box lead scoring in Pardot, and a few ad hoc reports in Salesforce.
Now EAI enjoys a documented data model and lead workflow (developed with sales leadership), a custom lead scoring and assignment strategy, better alignment with sales, and comprehensive pipeline performance reporting in Salesforce.
“We were missing a connection between the things we were doing and how that was moving the needle,” explained Johnston. “It positioned our department to report on what was working and gave us visibility into our tactics and strategies.”
Marketing Programs with Visibility
Next, they created program plans. “Our team had the right people to get the job done. What we didn't have was true program plans in place,” continued Johnston. “We established the programs for our department and set up program owners for success.”
For the first time in two and a half years, EAI had visibility into what's working and what's not. “Establishing the events, digital, and campaigns and content program plans, putting KPIs behind them, and empowering those program leaders was huge for me as a marketing leader,” stated Johnston.
Johnston called the Chief Outsiders engagement a wonderful, seamless experience from onboarding to offboarding. “I can't say enough good things about Angus,” she related. “I have no doubt that we will stay in contact. He's a wonderful resource and a phenomenal human being.”
“Jessica's smart, a phenomenal content strategist, and an operational powerhouse,” added Robertson. “With an open mind, she wants to learn and do what is proven as effective. Now, as a result, EAI knows where to invest to generate qualified leads and pipeline for sales.”
Scalable Model Supports 2X Revenue Growth and 10X Value
In the year that Robertson has worked with EAI, revenues have grown from single to double-digit millions. “From the viewpoint of private equity, this is a great success,” reported Robertson. “With revenues doubled, the value of the company approaches 10X.”
With Robertson’s help, EAI put the infrastructure and plans in place so that marketing supports and contributes to pipeline and revenue growth. “It's a predictable, scalable model that the CEO, the executive team, and the board can continue to invest in,” he reported. “We're on track to hit our numbers,” added Johnston.
Better Marketing Spend
With improved reporting and specific program visibility, EAI can identify performing and underperforming activities. For example, for EAI’s market PPC is not as effective as Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Hence, EAI has allocated a greater share of budget to ABM. “We are spending our marketing dollars more wisely,” confirmed Johnston. “A perfect example is our ABM program.”
Before its work with Chief Outsiders, events were EAI’s primary channel for lead generation. “We knew we needed to ramp up a digital effort,” related Johnston. “Because of our work with Angus, we doubled down on events, and we also have ABM and a strong digital program.”
10X SEO Improvement
EAI also expanded its SEO program to better align content and strategy for traffic growth and keyword ranking. Twelve months ago, the EA website saw 1,000 views per month in organic search with 500 keywords ranked in the top 100.
Today, the site pulls in 8,700 views per month with 4.7K keywords ranked, almost 10X the number of keywords to find Education Advanced. EAI now ranks #1 for "Master scheduling software." “We've seen incredible growth with our SEO program,” confirmed Johnston.
Marketing Leadership Development
Positioning the EAI marketing team for success, Robertson also helped Johnston sharpen her skills as a marketing leader. “Being a relatively new marketer, it felt like a yearlong marketing masterclass,” she reported. “The marketing team would not be where we are today without the work we did with Angus.”
“Jessica has earned her role as EAI’s VP of Marketing. She knows what to do and how to move forward,” concluded Robertson. “EAI has in place a system they know can generate revenue, measure marketing effectiveness, and show them where to invest.”
“If you have a marketing department in need of executive direction,” Johnston added, “I would not hesitate to engage Angus Robertson and Chief Outsiders.”